Sabah wants export ban on ‘rakyat fish’ to be lifted

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 17 Mar 2020

Subject of debate: The ban aimed to ensure sufficient supply and avoid price surges during festive seasons.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah wants the Federal Government to lift a four-month export ban on certain types of fish, says state Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Junz Wong.

He said the export ban on fish dubbed “rakyat fish” by the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia was enforced in January and February, and again between April 15 and June 15.

The ban was intended to ensure sufficient supply and avoid price surges during festive periods such as Chinese New Year and Hari Raya, as well as monsoon seasons.

Species that were banned included mackerel, pomfret, yellowtail scad and prawns.

“The ban has taken a toll on the fisheries industry, affecting not only fishermen but also the economy of Sabah.

“The blanket ban is not suitable and should not be applied to Sabah for various reasons, ” he said.

Wong said Sabah’s fish exports totalled 71,289 metric tonnes in 2018, while the imports were a mere 16,662 metric tonnes.

“In the same year, our exports fetched Sabahans RM876mil.

“Sabah is also the main hub for fish consumed by Malaysians. We landed 163,055 metric tonnes of fish with a value of RM945mil in 2018.

“While the ban may be suitable for Peninsular Malaysian states that have lower yields, Sabah is an exception as we have more than what we need, ” he said.

He added that based on past experiences, fish landing increases in Sabah every April and May.

“This catch season causes fish price to plummet as a result of over supply.

“With limited local demand in Sabah, the export ban will be detrimental to fishermen, boat operators and the Sabah economy, ” Wong said.

He hoped newly appointed federal Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee, who is from Sabah, would understand and help the state’s fishing industry by lifting the ban.

With Covid-19 affecting the country’s economy, he said it was important to lift the ban to stimulate businesses.

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